Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan

I’m so excited to finally read CRA and write a review on it! This has OBVIOUSLY been the craze of late 2018 and I finally got around to reading it :) I’ll also tie in some of my thoughts about the movie into this review. Hope you enjoy!

A little backstory: I remember a few years back when I visited my local bookstore every Saturday morning, I would always see the cover of Rich People Problems, thinking that it’s some sort of non-fiction judgment on Chinese society. Who would have thought that the first book in that series got turned into a movie?


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Name: Crazy Rich Asians
Author: Kevin Kwan

Publisher: Anchor Books
Release Date: May 20, 2014 (1st pub Jun 11, 2013)

Synopsis

When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.

On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

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Book Review: Now I Rise (Ava)

This is Ava’s review posted in 2019. There is another version written by Joanne back in 2018: to check it out, click HERE.

I’m trying to get through all of the reviews I’ve been meaning to do for, like, three months, in one afternoon. We’ll see how that goes.


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Name: Now I Rise
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 27, 2017

Synopsis

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

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Book Review: And I Darken (Ava)

This is Ava’s review posted in 2019. There is another version written by Joanne back in 2017: to check it out, click HERE.

I’ve already talked a little bit about Kiersten White’s And I Darken, but this book introduced me to her writing, and so I definitely owe it a full review. I owe all of those books a full review, actually.


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Name: And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 28, 2016

Synopsis

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.


Book Cover Comments

This cover is so pretty! I’m obsessed with the knife, and the petals of this flower. It goes along perfectly with the first sentence of the synopsis: Nobody expects a princess to be brutal. Well, nobody expects a flower to be freaking blown to pieces by a badass knife but here we are and it works perfectly. Only critique: MAKE KIERSTEN’S NAME BIGGER SHE DESERVES IT.


The Actual Review

When I picked up And I Darken for the first time, I didn’t really understand what I was going to be reading. I mistakenly assumed it was a YA Fantasy, which it most definitely is not (read the blurb kids, don’t make my mistakes). At the point that I bought this novel, I wasn’t reading much beyond YA Fantasy, so when I discovered it’s historical fiction, I was surprised, but not really turned off. I was definitely cautious, though, because it had been a while since I’d read historical fiction with enough of a twist to keep me interested.

Well.

And I Darken is a gender-bent tale of the life of Vlad the Impaler. If his title “The Impaler” doesn’t give you enough of a clue about the kind of guy ol’ Vlad was, let me leave you with this piece of information: he’s the dude who inspired the blood-sucking myths of Count Dracula.

And Kiersten White makes him a girl.

I was enchanted by this book. It starts off a little bit slow, but you learn to appreciate how much information we’re given in the beginning of And I Darken because there is a lot of history to get through, and given the fact that some of the names of places are different from what we call them today, it sometimes gets a little wonky, trying to remember all of that. Which is why you must pay attention to what’s going on in the beginning. Fortunately, the antics between Lada and Radu are enjoyable enough (and their dad is creepy enough) to offer a really nice buffer for the heaviness of the information.

Later in the book, we met Mehmed, who is the son of the sultan; he’s lonely, moody, and kind of Edgy, but something about him intrigues both Lada and Radu, so they all become friends. What’s really fascinating is that Kiersten is able to create a world that was so heavily drenched in side-windy politics and court functions, and bring it to us through kids’ eyes–but, like, the eyes of smart kids. Radu has a knack for picking up on all these courtly proceedings, Lada despises all of them, and Mehmed is the great mediator between them, so we’re given a really strong balance between the three characters.

When things start to pick up and Choices Must Be Made, I felt as though I was on the edge of my seat. I could’ve literally googled what generally went on during this time in history, but Kiersten keeps And I Darken so fresh (despite it being centuries old content), that you have to recognize this story will not be told anywhere else.

The book ends with something that I don’t consider a cliffhanger, but it definitely leaves you wanting to know more about what’s going on with these characters, and where they’ll end up. That’s Kiersten’s greatest gift with this book: you can’t help but fall in love with all of the characters, even though they’re polar opposites (I’m looking at you, Radu and Lada). Even Mehmed possesses a certain charm that makes me want to hug him and also punch him in the face (but not in an “I hate you” way, just in a “You’re fascinating and you exasperate me” way).

And I Darken quickly became one of my favorite reads of 2018, and the only thing that was negative about my reading experience was that it ended, and that it had taken me so long to find this book! I highly recommend snapping it up if you love political intrigue, girls with knives, lovable boys, and an absolutely incredible, high-stakes plot!